There is a retraction (October 2006) associated with this Article. Please click here to view. The observation of the detailed atomic arrangement within nanostructures has previously required the use of an electron microscope for imaging. The development of diffractive (lensless) imaging in X-ray science and electron microscopy using ab initio phase retrieval provides a promising tool for nanostructural characterization. We show that it is possible experimentally to reconstruct the atomic-resolution complex image (exit-face wavefunction) of a small particle lying on a thin carbon substrate from its electron microdiffraction pattern alone. We use a modified iterative charge-flipping algorithm and an estimate of the complex substrate image is subtracted at each iteration. The diffraction pattern is recorded using a parallel beam with a diameter of ∼50 nm, illuminating a gold nanoparticle of ∼13.6 nm diameter. Prior knowledge of the boundary of the object is not required. The method has the advantage that the reconstructed exit-face wavefunction is free of the aberrations of the objective lens normally used in the microscope, whereas resolution is limited only by thermal vibration and noise.
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This work was supported by ARO award W911NF-05-1-0152 and a UK EPSRC award.
The authors declare no competing financial interests.
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Wu, J., Weierstall, U. & Spence, J. Diffractive electron imaging of nanoparticles on a substrate. Nature Mater 4, 912–916 (2005). https://doi.org/10.1038/nmat1531
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